Ritz-Carlton ruins surfing at Fisherman’s Hut

ORANJESTAD — Kite surfers, windsurfers and aquatic sports companies at Fisherman’s Hut are bracing themselves now that the Ritz-Carlton hotel will definitely be constructed.


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They fear that the hotel will block the wind-force and that wealthy tourists will claim the beach, which will ruin the surf sport.

Charles Meijer, organizer of Aruba Hi-Winds, is pessimistic about the future of the annual wind surfing competitions. "The exact location of the hotel is not entirely clear yet, but it seems that the entire area will be without wind, which will be disastrous for the beginning windsurfers and kitesurfers. Our youngster tournaments are held here on the beach, but that will be out of the question with such a large air shaft." Meijer is thinking about eventually moving to another location. "If such is available."
Lysander and Angelique Loefstok of the Kitesurf School at Fisherman’s Hut do not know what they are up against either. "The former government had informed us that the Ritz-Carlton would not become a high-rise building and therefore not block the wind-force. They had also mentioned that the road leading to the school would remain accessible, but that had not been renovated during the past three years either. Nor have we heard from the current government."
Together with the other kite- and windsurf schools at Fisherman’s Hut they will consider the next step within short. The kitesurf school of Armando Wester is located just a bit further down. He states he has not been well informed on the arrival of the hotel either. The arrival of the Ritz-Carlton only has one inevitable consequence. "The sports will be ruined. They should rather consider our youth, as kite surfing is actually very popular with them." Wester admits that the future of his company is uncertain. "It will become more difficult."
Few alternatives
The fact remains that Fisherman’s Hut is the ideal place to give kite surfing lessons. "It is shallow and clear and a good spot to teach beginners. The kiteboarders’ sails in the sky attract all those tourists. Once they see the sports people, they immediately want to join up. In any case, I will loose these potential customers in view of the aforementioned."
There are few alternatives, says Wester, "unless you move further outland where there is more wind, but the tourists find this scary, and it makes teaching more difficult". Another spot for kiting regards, Boca Grandi on the eastern side of the island. "However, this spot can only handle fifteen kites. Another spot regards Barcadera, but lacks shallow water in order to give lessens. This place is unique." Kitesurfer Mark Groeneveld states that one could eventually move to the location adjacent to Fisherman’s Hut. "However, even after having removed all the coral there, we only end up with half of our current space, which is not much anyhow."

Public debate
According to wind- and kite surfer Esther Tiemes, the sailing space at Fisherman’s Hut is already limited. "Once you sail past the Marriott, you already notice the wind suddenly subsiding. This disappears once you head offshore. This is not a problem for experienced windsurfers, who usually sail offshore. However, for beginners it can really become a nuisance as the wind subsides and becomes snappier. Learning how to kite offshore is entirely impossible for the kite surfers." Tiemes states that only experienced kite surfers can sail offshore. "Even then, the surfing schools still have to keep an eye on them." Tiemes is of the opinion that the government had not been honest about the arrival of the five-star hotel. "A public debate was never held, at least not based on facts." The fact that the government will renovate the beaches next to Fisherman’s Hut together with project developer Hotelco, gives little consolation. Tiemes: "In any case, renovation is necessary, whether the Ritz-Carlton will be constructed or not."